Three lost and found stories from the lips of Jesus: The lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. All of them are illogical to the practical mind. They make no sense.
Notice that the three stories end with a party. The reason for the party is because what was lost was found. We’ve all had experience of loosing someone or something, also rejoiced if we found what was lost. St. Anthony receives many petitions. Profound theological truth is contained in the stories because they resonate with our life. Perhaps the story that most touches our heart strings is the story of the lost son. We may never come to fully appreciate the full meaning of the Prodigal Son, much less the Prodigal Father. When a person is young, they think that they can do anything. The world is at their feet. Nothing seems impossible. So the son took off in search of adventure. The money came from his father. Question: Why did the father give him his share of the estate? Why did the father not place any conditions? Either the father was extremely dumb or very trusting. Remember that the story is a mirror of our relationship with God. God is the trusting father and we are the sons and daughters. To what are we entitled? What have we done to deserve anything from God? Yet, we receive countless blessings without merit. No doubt, God is extravagant with His gifts to us, regardless of our unworthiness. That’s why the Father did not stop the son who wanted to leave. Free will. All of us have the power to mess up our own life. But then there is no one to blame. Blame often happens when we find ourselves without a penny or failed at what we set out to do or feel rejected by our family. We cannot blame others for the choices we have made.
The restless young son didn’t blame anyone for his stupidity. He owned up to his mistakes. Took being homeless and feeding pigs and wanting to eat the food of the pigs for him to realize that everything had gone wrong. He reached a turning point in his life. Many young people in a similar situation get depressed, resort to drugs or commit suicide. The young son listened to the correct voice—the voice of repentance. Having to admit that we were wrong does not make us inferior. All the contrary, when we admit that we were wrong we mature spiritually.
The young son returned home and was received with open arms—no questions, no judgment, no punishment. Almost everyone was happy, except for the older son. He was too proud to enter the party. Indeed, he had been a good son: kept all the rules, never disobeyed his father, worked hard. But he couldn’t celebrate because of his arrogance. He was angry at what his young brother had done and refused to forgive him. So the young son who was apparently bad in the beginning turned out to be good. The older son who was good at the beginning turned out to be bad. The difference was that the young son allowed himself to be loved and the older son said no. The father loved them both. Consider our attitude when we see someone get something for nothing. The temptation is to become defensive, envious, judgmental. God the Father loves us all the same. Our salvation depends on our openness to unconditional love. The inheritance is already ours. We are free to use God’s gifts wisely or waste them. Truth be told, there is a little bit of both the younger and older son is all of us. Because we all have made mistakes and we all have pride in our soul. Yet, the Father keeps trusting us, without question. The party has begun for our homecoming. Holy Mass is the greatest feast we will ever witness—all for free—in our honor.
Now comes the choice: to celebrate knowing that we are unworthy or to stay away because we know that those invited are unworthy. Weather we come in or not, the party continues.